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Amanda Rielinger CAS Students' summer series

Amanda Rielinger

EMU Senior, Expected Graduation August 2019

Double Major: Biology and Anthropology

Minor: Chemistry

What inspired you to pursue a double major in Biology and Anthropology?

"I've always loved learning about the natural world, so I always knew I wanted to study some kind of biological science. I actually started my undergraduate career as a Secondary Education Biology major. I still love teaching, but I realized that I love research more. So, I dropped the education degree and switched to a straight biology major. As the daughter of an immigrant and someone who spent some of his formative years on Kwajelin (part of the Marshall Islands) I was exposed to stories about other cultures from an early age. I found that Anthropology was able to combine both my interests in cultures and the natural world.”

Why did you choose EMU?

"I chose EMU because it just felt like the right fit. It had the programs that I wanted, it was both far away and fairly close to home, and it was the perfect size in terms of the campus and the amount of students. Being biracial, a diverse student body was also important to me. I also received the Education First Opportunity Scholarship, a full tuition scholarship that really helped with school costs over the last four years."

What have your studies at EMU primarily focused on?

"My studies at Eastern have mainly focused on probiotics, diet, and the gut microbiome. Isotopes are not something I have explored yet, but I am looking forward to doing so in the coming weeks."

This summer Amanda traveled with Professor Megan Moore to the Roman era site of Antiochia ad Cragum in Turkey!

What will you be doing on your research trip to Turkey?

"In terms of my project, I hope to analyze the carbon, nitrogen, and strontium isotopic signature of the bones of some of the individuals buried at the site. Isotopes are different variations of a chemical element. All living things are made up of chemicals and can have different isotopic signatures. When we ingest these things, they can also affect our isotopic signature. Because of this, we can determine a person's diet and/or residence based on their isotopic signature.

One of my major research interests is the gut microbiome. I am especially interested in how our modern diets may affect gastrointestinal microorganisms and cause disease. I thought that this would be a fun project because it will help me build new skills, and I can use the data we collect to better understand the variability of human diet over time."

How did you become involved in this project?

"I became involved with the project because of my faculty mentor, Professor Megan Moore. She asked me if I would be interested in joining her this summer. Of course, I couldn't say no. So, we began looking for a project for me to work on in Turkey. My chemistry minor provided me with the background knowledge that I needed for the project, and my research interests in diet aligned well with the project goals."

What part of this project excites you the most?

"Honestly, just going to a new place and meeting new people is what excites me the most. I've never travelled internationally, so this is going to be a whole new, exciting experience."

What do you hope to gain through your research trip to Turkey?

"I hope to gain new skills in archaeology, knowledge about other people and places, and a better understanding of myself and my own interests and values."

For you, what do you believe sets EMU's biology or anthropology department apart from other university biology or anthropology departments?

"I think what really sets EMU's departments apart from other schools is the relationships undergraduates can have with their faculty mentors. I have two fantastic faculty mentors: Professor Megan Moore in the Anthropology department, and Dr. Daniel Clemans in the Biology department. I really feel like they have gone above and beyond to teach me not only how to be a scientist, but how to be a life-long student. As someone who has experience working in research labs at other universities, I can definitely say that the relationships I have made here are special. The faculty at EMU really put education first."

How has, or will your time at EMU influence your future endeavors?

"During my time at EMU, I was really able to grow as a person and learn about myself. Thanks to funding from the University and the American Society of Microbiology, I was able to conduct undergraduate research in a variety of fields, present that research all over the country, and now I will be able to travel abroad to learn new skills and techniques. I'm currently considering a career in public health microbiology, as I think it will be able to combine my love of the social and natural sciences. However, I have decided to wait a year before I make my final decision, as I want to be sure it is the right fit. No matter what, I know the knowledge and relationships I have gained at EMU will be helpful as I move forward into graduate school and my career."

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CAS Dean's Office
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